A history of colonial education: among the kipsigis of Kenya, circa 1895 - 1963
Keywords:History of education, out-of-school education, circumcision, educational administration, colonial history, formal education, informal education, indigenous education, Kenya
Education is a key element in the social life of any community. Without
knowledge of its educational system, the historical destiny of a community cannot be
understood. Likewise, it becomes difficult to formulate meaningful development goals.
This study covers the history of education among the Kipsigis under colonial rule. It is
intended to fill a gap in the historiography of the community. Also, the research findings
could contribute to the accumulation of empirical data required for national curriculum
planning and development.
As a background, the Kipsigis system of education as it existed in precolonial tiines is
briefly examined in historical perspective. In respect to the colonial period, the study is
concemed with the roles that the missionaries and the colonial administration played in the
development of school education.
The study proceeds from the assumption that, in precolonial times, the Kipsigis had
evolved a system of education suitable to their environment. Sirnilarly, the view is taken that
the colonialists' provision of school education to the community was ultiinately dictated by
. the need to promote the overall colonial enterprise in Kenya. In this situation, the Kipsigis
took initiatives in the educational field parallel to those of other Kenyan Africans -
cu!minating, inter alia, in the establishment of independent schools.
Two theories formulated to explain culture and cultural change in the colonial
situation - viz. structural functionalism and the historical materialist conception of colonialism
- are utilised in this study. The historical inquiry proceeded in three major phases. These
were research into secondary materials in libraries, the marshalling of primary data through
archivai research, and the collection of oral evidence through fieldwork.